by Brian C. Petroziello
Morgen swung his spear gun over his shoulder, fighting the urge to let it drop in order to rid himself of more weight. He grabbed his friend by the weight belt and pulled with all his might. He made some headway, but it wasn’t until he managed to unbuckle his companion’s weight belt, that he was able to pull Murdock up.
He hurled his comrade in the direction of the tower until Murdock was able to grab onto the ledge of the opening. It was then that Morgen noticed that the tower seemed to be larger than when they entered, and now there was not one opening but many. He used Murdock as a safety line and swam over his back and into the tower. He yanked Murdock in.
They found the exit and swam through. The water on the other side was much clearer. It was definitely not Lake Sawtooth. They swam into the warm, clear waters, and headed for the surface of a much shallower body of water. They broke the surface and removed their masks.
The water was a clear blue, reflecting the sky above, but the sunlight seemed much stronger and warmer than they were used to. It was like being in a light box. They held up the masks but the polarizing lenses seemed to make only a slight difference, but it was enough for them to make note of the twin suns. Murdock whistled and pointed at the three moons. A dark line arced across the sky, which the men took to be the planet’s rings.
Before they could comment on their situation, a plume of water erupted, and shot high into the foreign sky. A whale-like behemoth surfaced and came up out of the water. Its great maw was opened wide, revealing row upon row of dagger-like teeth — and it appeared to be heading toward them.
“We need to high-tail it,” said Morgen. “We need to go back to the original tower and find the right opening. Stick close to the wall to keep from sinking.” Morgen nodded and the men donned their masks and dove under the water.
They had no problems reaching the Tower, which was clearly visible in the sparkling waters. They made it to the opening just ahead of the great beast. The tower shook violently from the impact of the monster against the edifice.
They swam quickly into the exit. They tested the waters on the other side, and found the gelatinous liquid once again. They eased out, and used the mortar lines to keep from sinking. They had to check several of the openings before finding the one that led to the dark water of Sawtooth Lake.
Morgen entered with a great kick of his fins. He turned to help Murdock through. Behind him he noticed a gray blur streak past his partner. Before he could help him in, Murdock began thrashing. Morgen held on tight, as something seemed to be pulling Murdock back into the thick murk.
A gray head appeared over Murdock’s shoulder. He was sure it was one of the creatures that had invaded their campsite. His light revealed two tiny, wide-set eyes, and a flattened forehead — “frog-like” came to mind.
A memory stirred within him, one that blasted his very soul. It was a photograph in a family album — one taken early in the century of the Morburg branch of the Morgen clan. He could see the family resemblance of those Morgens in the terrible face of the creature — those same wide set eyes and the flattened forehead!
He was so stunned that he nearly let go of Murdock. He noticed the pained expression on Murdock’s face, and it appeared that he was losing consciousness. Morgen yanked on his friend and he came free. He could see the creature in the entryway, holding what appeared to be Murdock’s leg and fin in an over-sized crustacean claw.
He looked down, and saw a reddish cloud emanating from Murdock’s leg. He tossed his injured comrade behind him. As the creature came into the tower, he leveled the spear gun and fired, skewering the creature and forcing it out of the tower where it began sinking in the thick waters.
He grabbed the now-floating figure of Murdock and headed out the exit and toward the surface. He broke through the water near the boat and after removing his mask, yelled for Ralston. The two men hoisted him over the side and into the boat. Ralston fired up the motor while Morgen tied a tourniquet around Murdock’s mangled leg.
“Head for the town, double time!” yelled Morgen. He grabbed a rifle and fired several shots at the gray figures he saw swimming after the boat just below the surface of the lake. He thought several of the bullets found their mark. The pursuit stopped as soon as they made the transition from the tea colored waters into the clearer, more normal waters of Sawtooth Lake.
As they approached the town, Morgen found that his cell phone would work. After a few minutes with an operator, he was assured that an ambulance would meet them at the Marina. The men accompanied Murdock to the hospital and made sure that he was out of danger.
Murdock filled Ralston in while they sat in the waiting room.
“Master Chief, what do you plan to do about this?”
“I’ve got an idea, Ralston. I’ll need your help and we’ve got some shopping to do.”
Before he could elaborate, he spied the local sheriff out of the corner of his eye. He motioned to Ralston for quiet.
“You all wanna tell me what happened out there?” he demanded.
“A diving accident,” said the Master Chief. “We missed a part of an old building that was sticking up out of the lake bed. It’s unfortunate, but things do happen. He just got a little careless. Totally out of character for him.”
Just then one of the doctors came out of the ER and approached the men.
“Your friend lost a lot of blood but he’s going to make it.” At that, the sheriff left. The doctor waited until after the sheriff was out of earshot. “His wound. It’s mighty strange. There are serrations all along the wound. It’s not like any diving accident I’ve ever heard of. It almost looked like it was cut off with a huge pair of pinking shears.”
“Ralston was in the boat, Murdock and I were diving on the old village of Morburg. I had my back to him and I heard him thrashing about. I don’t know how it happened,” said Morgen.
“Well, your tourniquet probably saved his life. It will probably be several days before he will be released. Family should be notified.”
“We’ll take care of that,” said Ralston.
The doctor went back into the ER to attend to his patient.
* * *
The men left the hospital and went their separate ways. Morgen went to the marina store, and found several watertight duffle bags, which he tossed into the boat, and then made his way to the hardware store.
Ralston found several alarm clocks before going to the local feed store. They finished their missions and met at the boat. They made the trip back to the old Morgen homestead in silence. When they reached the dark waters near the old village, Morgen stood, legs braced wide, rifle in his hand, searching the water for evidence of the creatures.
There was about an hour of daylight left when they reached the RV. They made several trips to the camper with their supplies, secured the boat, and then reset the trip wires, finally securing themselves inside the camper. The men set about the grim task of assembling their hastily purchased supplies into five very lethal explosive charges.
They ate dinner inside the RV well after the sun had set and then took turns on watch. Around 3:00 a.m., a couple of the trip wires sent flares cascading skyward. Morgen and Ralston fired in that direction out of the side windows of the camper. The scenario was repeated several times during the night but the creatures did not gain access to the RV.
When the sun came up, they surveyed the area around the camper. There were many more tracks leading up from the water and around the vehicle and the house. There were deep gouges in the sides of the camper, and one of the tires was flat. Apparently the creatures were more capable of stealth than they had thought.
They fixed the flat and ate a cold breakfast, except for some coffee as a bracer. They backed the camper down to the road to the lake and transferred the explosives from the RV into the boat. Ralston drove out to the site of the old village where both men donned their wet suits.
Morgen strung the satchels together with stout nylon rope while Ralston set the alarm clocks on the makeshift bombs and resealed the bags. They restrung the spear guns, carrying extra spears that Morgen had purchased the day before at the marina.
Morgen tossed a life jacket into the foul water, and watched it drift, timing it with his dive watch. “After we plant the charges, we surface to the west. The boat should be drifting that way. We need to move fast.”
They tumbled into the water, carrying the explosives between them with one hand, spear guns at the ready in the other. They were nearly over the location of the tower and dove straight down. They reached the tower within minutes and after checking to make sure that it was devoid of creatures, they floated in and descended to the bottom. Ralston used his dive knife to cut the rope that tied the satchels together, and they half buried the charges along the base of the tower.
Satisfied with the location of the bombs, Morgen motioned to Ralston to go up. Before they had time to reach the doorway, the men noticed gray blurs in the thick water beyond the exit. They fired spears in that direction, and could feel, rather than hear, the howls of pain from the creatures.
They pushed off from the doorway, and headed in the opposite direction, surfacing about fifty yards from the motorboat, which had drifted in the direction that Morgen had predicted. They notched another spear in the gun, and began swimming in the direction of the boat.
When they were about ten yards away, Ralston felt something brush against his leg. Mindful of the attack on Murdock the previous day, he kicked and spun with all his might, and fired the spear gun blindly. The spear missed its mark, but his motion caught Morgen’s attention, who noticed the blur turning for another pass. Morgen held his breath, took aim and fired. He saw the creature come up out of the water, the spear lodged firmly in its torso. He heard the high-pitched squeal of the creature.
They made it to the boat and swung up on the small rear platform. Ralston headed for the driver’s seat while Morgen fumbled for one of the rifles. Ralston held his pistol at the ready as he started the motor and headed the boat back in the direction of the RV. Behind them they could hear the rush of a plume of water and could feel the boat rock from the waves caused by the explosion. The men could see the water churning and a large wave spreading out in all directions from the location of the tower.
As the boat sliced through the water, Morgen fired several times at gray blurs in the water, but was not sure if he was really shooting at the creatures, or if it was just his imagination. He hoped that the blast had sealed the opening between Sawtooth Lake, and wherever the exit led. He feared that the explosion might have trapped some of the creatures on this side of the void.
He hadn’t seen any more of the beings as the boat glided into the muddy silt of the shoreline. Ralston backed the boat trailer into the water, and the men hurried to load the boat on. As soon as they were sure that the boat was solidly on the trailer, they headed back to the house.
As they approached the house, Morgen yelled for Ralston to stop. The men exited the vehicle. “Finish securing the boat,” he told Ralston. He grabbed the extra containers of gasoline from the boat, and began sloshing it around the Morgen mansion.
When he had drained the gas cans, he took the flare gun from the boat and aimed it in the direction of the building. The spilled gasoline erupted in a tremendous whoosh, and the ancient wood of the structure caught fire quickly. In minutes the entire house was engulfed.
“Done, Master Chief!” yelled Ralston.
“Let’s bug out. It’ll only be a matter of minutes before the local law shows up. It would be a good idea to be gone, just in case they don’t think we did them a favor,” said Morgen.
Copyright © 2008 by Brian C. Petroziello